Deputy union says it has 'no confidence' in Broward Sheriff Scott Israel


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 Deputy union says it has 'no confidence' in Broward Sheriff Scott Israel

    FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—A deputies' union on Thursday decided it has "no confidence" in Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, citing crushed morale amid national criticism of how the agency handled its response to the Parkland school massacre.

    The Broward Sheriff's Office Deputies Association revealed 85 percent of the union members who voted — 534 out of 628 — said they had no confidence in the sheriff. The plan is to send the results of the vote to Florida Gov. Rick Scott, urging him to "make change and replace the sheriff with somebody who is capable of amazing leadership."

    Jeff Bell, the union president, said the "members have displayed great courage to come out and vote under threat of retaliation and reprisal from the sheriff."

    Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel speaks before the town hall.

    He added, "Amazing leadership starts from the top, and there is no amazing leadership here. We are a ship out at sea with no power — adrift."

    In a statement, Sheriff Israel called the union's vote an attempt to extort a pay raise.

    "I am accountable to the citizens of Broward County," the sheriff said. "My job is to continue to do the job I was elected to do, which is to ensure the safety of Broward County's 1.9 million residents. I will not be distracted from my duties by this inconsequential IUPA union vote, which was designed to extort a 6.5 percent pay raise from this agency.

    "Those who purportedly voted in this straw ballot reflect only a small number of the 5,400 employees. The unions representing the vast majority of our employees solidly support the leadership of this agency."

    The Broward Sheriff's Office Deputies Association initiated the vote last Friday. The association's voters were casting ballots electronically since Friday.

    The organization is a chapter of the International Union of Police Associations and represents 1,050 members and its contract covers 1,300 deputies and sergeants. The vote was open to all of them, and 628 voted, including 94 who said they still have confidence in the sheriff.

    Bell denied that the union's motive was to extort a pay raise, saying the union has a "long laundry list" of complaints about the sheriff.

    The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, under orders from Scott, is investigating how the Sheriff's Office and other law enforcement agencies handled its response to the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Gunman Nikolas Cruz killed 17 and wounded 17 others.

    Bell said he'll share the union's vote with FDLE and would support the sheriff's removal from office.

    Meanwhile, another union, the Federation of Public Employees on Monday announced it had renewed its contract by a vote of 1,111 to 38, which correlated with a vote of support and confidence in the sheriff.

    "This is also a vote of confidence in how you treat us and how our bargaining unit feels about you," the union's director, Anthony Marciano, wrote in a letter to the sheriff. At 2,500 members, the federation is the largest union representing sheriff's office employees, the letter said.

    By: Sun Sentinel

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